My ten-year-old son, Thomas (or The Young Turk as he is known in the online world) has put together a passion project that helps the children who live in the orphanage where his brother used to live. It started this summer with a Shoe Project and has now expanded to include his Christmas for the Orphans Project.
When Carla asked me to write a post about all that he is learning from this experience, I thought the list would be really really long. But when it gets down to it, there are really only three lessons. And these three are so big, so powerful and so life-shaping that I hope they stay with him for all of his days.
These life lessons aren’t unique or hard to achieve. They are lessons we can all create for our children as they go about their lives. I’d like to share them with you in hopes that you can help your children find a passion project of their own:
Lesson #1: To Act on his Best Instincts
When we came home from Russia in August, Thomas overheard my husband I talking about the fact that the children in the orphanage wore their winter boots outside in the middle of a heat wave because they didn’t have proper summer shoes. This bothered him. A lot. He talked to me about it and we discussed some possible solutions. After mulling them over for over a year, he honored his instincts to solve the problem in a way that played to his strengths.
Lesson #2: To Solve a Major Problem, It Helps to Play to his Strengths and Use his Natural Talents
Thomas has always been comfortable in front of a camera and can be wildly persuasive when he decides he wants something. (His preschool teachers told me he was going to be a lawyer when he grew up!). So we mapped out a way to use these talents to raise the money he needed to solve the shoe problem. I set up a blog and helped him figure out the donation configuration. Then I just turned on my video camera and let him talk. Over $2500 later, that solution seems to be working very well.
Lesson #3: To Change the World, All He has to Do is Focus on One Small Corner of It
My son is a deep thinker and the weight of all the problems in the world weigh heavy on him sometimes. (Before you think is this amazing perfect child, you need to know that he is ten years old, throws fits, demands his own way and regularly torments his little brother.) He is learning that he can’t take on the entire world all at once. He can focus on making one corner of it better for a group of forgotten children. And along the way, he gets to inspire and bring out the best in many many people from all around the world.
My challenge to you is find a way to teach these lessons to your children. You don’t have take on a project that helps children halfway around the world. You can teach these lessons by helping people down the street. And I would LOVE it if you shared your ideas in the comments below.